Growing up my mum was always on a diet so I don’t think the takeaway delivery man ever visited our house. However, my Grandma did like the odd Chinese takeaway so maybe that is where my love of Chinese food developed. Hot and sour soup was my absolute favourite and it’s great to recreate it now in a vegetarian form just as Chinese New Year is due. This recipe is from Ching He Huang’s ‘Chinese Food In Minutes’. Due to the never-ending lockdown, there’s restrictions on shopping together in most supermarkets therefore we’re shopping at our local which doesn’t have a great range of ingredients. However, I still got everything on this list from that supermarket except for the dried mushrooms so I think it’s fair to say it’s not too specialist.

Serves 4


  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 2 chillis (mine were quite mild – buy according to your heat tolerance)
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tin stir fry vegetables
  • 10g dried mushrooms
  • 1 box tempeh (or tofu or other meat substitute)
  • 1 tin kimchi (about 200g)
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil (I used Chiu Chow Chilli Oil – it comes in a jar and has chilli flakes aswell as oil – I recommend as it’s not just purely heat flavour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 2 spring onions
  • 5 g fresh coriander


1.) Boil a kettle. Measure out the mushrooms into a bowl. Pour over the boiling water and leave to soak up for 20 minutes

2.) Measure out 1 litre of water and add the stock cube

3.) Peel and chop the ginger

4.) In a small container, crack in the egg and beat

5.) In another small container, measure out the cornflour, add 2 tbsp cold water and stir until there’s no lumps

6.) Chop up the chillis, spring onions, tempeh and coriander

7.) When the mushrooms are done, squeeze out the water and chop them up

8.) Put the stock into a large pan and bring to the boil.

9.) Add the mushrooms, ginger, chilli, tsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, tin of stir fry veg and the kimchi

10.) Turn the heat down to simmer and add the tempeh, 2 tbsp light soy sauce, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp chilli oil (I tried to get a bit of both the oil and the chilli flakes). Simmer for 10 minutes.

11.) Stir in the egg, stir in the cornflour mix and mix to thicken the soup.

12.) Garnish with the coriander and spring onion.

Onion Soup

As I write this my football team who have been mediocre for some years now have somehow climbed the way up to sit at the top of the league. There is some worrying speculation that they may cancel the league soon because of COVID (as everything is) which could just drain the rest of my limited dry-January willpower. However, if they really must do it, I say they do it now whilst we’re in pole position!

Onion soup is a meal I really enjoy. It’s great with the cheese on toast as in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’ but I enjoyed it with the cheese-dotted soda bread I made a few days ago. I didn’t really make many adjustments to his recipe and truly recommend the book.

Serves 6


5 onions

30g butter

4 cloves garlic

1/2 bunch fresh thyme (15g)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

30g flour

500ml cider (Jamie recommends scrumpy which is cider from the south-west of England but I just used a good quality cider)

1 litre Massel beef stock (this is a vegetarian beef-flavoured stock)

1 heaped teaspoon miso paste (I used brown as I couldn’t find a red miso paste)


1.) Peel and chop the onions

2.) Melt the butter in the pan, add the onions on a low heat

3.) Peel and chop up the garlic and add to the pan

4.) Strip off the thyme leaves – I find a good method is to start from the top of the branch and pull back. Add these to the pan. Generally a few sticks end up in the soup but they can be picked out.

5.) Add the flour and balsamic vinegar and cook down until the onions are golden. This is where the flavour comes from and is crucial.

6.) Pour in the cider and let it cook away for a few minutes.

7.) Add the miso and the stock and simmer for 25 minutes further.

8.) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Spiced Parsnip Soup

In the UK, we’ve just been slapped with a six-week lockdown and the gyms are closed which is making it more challenging for those January fitness goals. Running in 0 degree temperatures is not much fun and in these kind of conditions a warming bowl of soup is very agreeable. I honestly don’t know how I coped when I lived in Indiana and temperatures fell to -20 in the winter! I’ve modified a recipe that was in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. This is one of my favourite cookbooks because it features many different cuisines. I chose this Spiced Parsnip Soup as parsnips are in season at the moment and because my husband loves them. He particularly appreciated this soup as the parsnip does come through resolutely.


500g parsnips

1 baking potato

100g green beans

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger


1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp garam masala

200g red split lentils

1.5 litres vegetable stock

4 tbsp plain yoghurt

Serves 4 – 6


1.) Peel and chop the onion, potato and parsnips

2.) Heat some oil in a pan and add the onions, potato and parsnips, cook down until the veg become golden (around 15 – 20 minutes)

3.) In the meantime, peel the garlic and ginger and chop finely

4.) Add the ginger and garlic to the pan, add the cumin seeds, garam masala and the lentils

5.) Cook down for 5 more minutes – if it’s dry you might need to add a touch more oil

6.) Add the stock and the green beans (these are not compulsory but I had some left over from my Jungle Curry)

It’s quite a lot of liquid but don’t worry – it will make a lovely thick soup!

7.) Simmer for 20 minutes

8.) Blitz to your preferred consistency with an immersion blender

9.) Season with salt and pepper and stir through the yoghurt to add a nice creamy texture.